After reading the literature and copying the stemmata from 9th-century Cassiodorus manuscripts to develop a feel for their divergent shapes, one is left to speculate on which of the various line forms is the oldest. In some of the manuscripts, the lines are minimalist in the extreme, often regularized to perfect semi-circles. Is this the feeling of Roman design? In other manuscripts, which may perhaps feature Cassiodorus's own visual creations - the images of lions, eagles, long-haired men and so on - the lines are fussy and tangled, or erupt like fountains. These lines faintly suggest the images of vines we see in some late Roman mosaics. Do they represent a Roman-period aesthetic? Perhaps we will never know.

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